Source Demos

27th December 2007

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Yesterday I was taught by CubeDude89 about Source Demos and I HAVE tell you. If you truly already know about them you can stop reading now. If you think you know about them, carry on reading just in case you didn’t. And if you have never heard of them be prepared to be amazed.

Definition Time

Firstly, allow me to define exactly what they are because they have a terrible name. They are simply recorded games. Like videos but actually within the game. There might be a good technical reason for calling them demos but I don’t know it, so for me it’s a bad name. It makes the average user think of a game you can test, you know, like a normal demo

Anyway, now you know what they are let’s look at what you can do with them.

Record Everything

Ever since Combine soldier threw a grenade at me and I manged to shot it back, mid-air, at him I have longed for a way to record everything I play. I tred a fe video systems and they are very good, especially Game Cam. But I may now have found a very easy and high performance way to just that!

I’ll look at the specifics in a moment but essential when you start play you bring down the console and type a simple command and it records everything in-game. Well, everything except your voice. The file is very small compared to a normal video file and is the same quality as your game settings.

The file is saved in what ever mod or game you are playing.


It’s possible to share these files, assuming the person who wants to watch it has the map or mod it was made in. In fact I can’t believe that they sue has not been made promoted more.

Uses – Tutorials

They seem perfect for gameplay tutorials, mainly for beginners. I know 99% of players think that SP don’t don’t need any tutorials but there are plenty of players out there that could use some help. Although I would consider myself an experienced player I would love to see a true expert playing Half-Life 2.

I definitely plan to sue them for a new series of articles on PP.

Uses – Walkthroughs

Again, modders could create short recordings of the toughest sections, especially if they had access to the playing stats of their mods! Even just normal walkthroughs would be cool, pity you can’t ad a narrative.

Uses – Teaser Videos

If it is possible to join demos (It may be, I currently don’t know) then creating a teaser demo could be rather useful. We have all seen the videos that teams produce and they of course have their place in promotions but a teaser demo would really allow the play to have some high quality footage.

Conversion to Videos

It is possible to do this, although at the time of writing I haven’t done it. I don’t know whether the quality is better or worse than using other techniques. Of course having a video has other advantages, addition of narration, special effects, title etc, so the quality may not be that important.

Monthly Demo

If I can convince enough PP readers to start recording everything they play they maybe we could have a Demo Of The Month post. It would be easy to share and even educational.

Some Resources

Hopefully by now you are just busting to try it for yourself, so here are some resources to get you started. Whilst I am only a beginner myself, if you have any problems, please post them here and I’ll see if I can help. Enjoy…

A Demo For You

I’ve added this after posting the main article but I realized that I should have made a demo for you to test! DOH!
Anyway here it is: PlanetPhillip Route Kanal Demo.
First of all, it’s just me playing for 1 minute so you can see the thing in action. Don’t expect anything fantastic gameplay wise.

Secondly, some installation instructions:

    Download and uncompress the file
  • copy pp_route_kanal_01.dem to you Half-Life 2 folder, probably something like
    C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\YOUR_USERNAME\half-life 2\hl2.

  • Then start Half-Life 2
  • Start the Console
  • Type demoui, press enter
  • A small User Interface appears
  • Click Load
  • Select pp_route_kanal_01.dem
  • Click Open
  • Sit back and enjoy (Don’t worry if it takes a few moments to start.)
  • The demo will stop automatically
A Question

I have a question that I wonder if any Source Demo Experts can answer:
Is it possible to include the record command in my HL2 launch options that will include a variable within the name?

Basically what I want to do is start a map or mod and have Source automatically start recording a demo with the date and time as part of the name. That way I can record everything and never worry about forgetting to start a recording.



  1. MattyDienhoff

    The thing about recording demos is, you can easily make videos out of them later by simply recording the playback of the demo with a program like FRAPS. You still get the same quality you’d get if you were recording the gameplay itself, but you don’t suffer the FPS drop.

  2. Yes, I thought that would be the case but haven’t tried it yet.

    I’ve also added a section at the bottom, linking to a demo I just recorded. It’s just for readers to try if they are new to this, like me!

  3. Cheap Ass Gamer

    So, where do I upload if I did a gameplay demo?

  4. So, where do I upload if I did a gameplay demo?

    Just compress it and email it to me or use the Contact Form.

  5. zeroth404

    They’ve been called demos since Doom 1 – far before game trials have been popularized and called demos.

  6. zeroth404

    to correct that, demos have been called shareware. ah, the good “ol days.

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